By: Josh Brown
BOSTON- It seemed like a case of déjà vu.
For the second straight season Northeastern and Boston College had to wait in the TD Garden tunnels for several hours past the slated start time of their game for a barnburner in front of them to end.
Last year it was a double-overtime Beanpot semifinals game between Boston University and Harvard. This year, Providence and Umass-Lowell were doing battle for a right to go to the Hockey East championship in a game that went to triple overtime.
“Lucky for us we have a little experience with that with last year’s Beanpot,” said Northeastern sophomore forward Nolan Stevens. “We just tried to keep our mind off the game, just watch the game that was going on so we didn’t get too nervous or antsy waiting for our game to start.”
Both times the result ended up being the same.
Behind goals from five different players, Northeastern advanced to their first Hockey East Championship since 1988 with a nail-biting 5-4 win over Boston College.
“I thought it was a tremendous hockey game,” said Northeastern coach Jim Madigan. “I thought our kids played hard, they were resilient, they showed a lot of resolve.”
The Eagles came out of the gates soaring, getting on the board just 15 seconds into the game. Streaking through the neutral zone, Christopher Brown backhanded a pass to freshman Miles Wood who flew up the left wing and fired a shot through the legs of Northeastern goalie Ryan Ruck (21 saves).
Northeastern carried the pace of play from that point forward, getting two goals in the second half of the period to send them into the locker room with a 2-1 lead.
First, Zach Aston-Reese collected a Nolan Stevens pass in the neutral zone, skated into the Huskies offensive zone and beat Eagles goalie Thatcher Demko (27 saves).
Just over five minutes later, with just 0.9 seconds left in the first period, freshman Adam Gaudette floated all alone on the backdoor of Demko and easily tapped home Mike McMurtry’s cross-ice pass with the BC net-minder and defenseman way out of position.
Boston College would tie the score up just 1:10 into the second period courtesy of Colin White, who fired a shot from the slot over the glove of Ruck.
Less than two minutes later, with the Huskies on the power play due to a Steve Santini roughing penalty, Nolan Stevens toe dragged around a BC defender in the Huskies attacking zone, and launched a shot on net that beat Demko blocker side. Eight minutes later Northeastern would get another one on the power play. With Casey Fitzgerald off for holding, defenseman Eric Williams corralled the puck between the blue line and right circle, and unloaded on a puck that beat Demko above his glove.
Again, the Eagles responded quickly, this time also on the power play. With John Stevens off for slashing, Miles Wood took a Ryan Fitzgerald pass at the right side of the net and one-timed it under the right pad of Ruck.
The third period saw both teams find stretches of longevity in their attacking zone, with the Huskies upping their lead to 5-3 halfway through the frame. White, who was trying to one-touch a pass to Ian McCoshen in the Eagles defensive zone, didn’t see Northeastern forward Lincoln Griffin streaking to the net, and the freshman intercepted the puck, and skated in all alone, beating Demko with his backhand.
Boston College would get one back just over a minute later courtesy of Alex Tuch, but it did not prove to be enough, with the Eagles taking two critical penalties in the final three minutes of the game thwarting any hope of a comeback.
“I thought our club played well, but we weren’t really sharp,” said Boston College coach Jerry York. “Especially on our breakouts and coming through the neutral zone, I think that was kind of our Achilles heel. We had two real major turnovers during the course of the game that they capitalized on. Didn’t get enough shots on goal for our offense either.”
This article can also be found on USCHO.